American designers Rochambeau and Gabriela Hearst join International Woolmark Prize final

The menswear and womenswear label will compete for the top honours in the new year

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As the winners of the International Woolmark Prize USA regional final, as announced at an awards event in New York City, Rochambeau and Gabriela Hearst represent the best in emerging American fashion design.

American designers Rochambeau and Gabriela Hearst join International Woolmark Prize final

Beginning in 2009, long-time friends Laurence Chandler and Joshua Cooper saw an opportunity to fill a potential gap in the menswear market and conceived Rochambeau. Merging their professional experience along with the shared passions of art and design, Laurence and Joshua launched the label as an outlet for creative expression and artistic collaboration. Within just a few seasons, Rochambeau was recognised by the industry and has developed a passionate consumer following since its launch.

For its International Woolmark Prize capsule collection, Rochambeau was inspired by New York - particularly post-9/11 and the movement of artists that came to define the city in the aftermath of crisis. There was a certain outlaw, renegade approach to life that they worked to capture in their look. "From the moment we received the nomination, it has just been a tremendous honour for us to work with The Woolmark Company, aside from the competition and then us being pushed creatively, it has opened up different business avenues,” the designers explained. “For us, we have new vendors that we are working with, our fall/winter 2017 collection features wool that we discovered during the competition so it is a tremendous honour to win this award. It is our first award and we are so thankful for the Woolmark team for all their support and know that it is just an ongoing conversation."

Born in Uruguay, Gabriela Hearst grew up on her family’s ranch. After more than a decade spent in design in New York, Gabriela honoured her family’s heritage through the launch of her eponymous label in Fall 2015, as well as taking over the operations of her father’s ranch. Gabriela wanted to create a brand that reflects a slower pace and process: where things are made with care and detail, where tradition is more important than trend, where there is a purpose to every piece. Combining the utilitarian and the beautiful, she creates long-lasting garments that hold memories for the woman who wears them. Wool has always been an integral part of her life and knitwear is the cornerstone of the brand. For her Fall 2016 collection, Gabriela partnered with a women’s non-profit, Manos del Uruguay. The tweed pieces are handmade by local craftswomen with Merino wool from Gabriela’s farm.

Hearst’s winning design for the International Woolmark Prize was made of a Cariaggi yarn of 14 micron ultrafine Merino wool and featured a herringbone stitch on the sleeve. "From a personal level, it means so much to me because I am a sixth-generation Merino wool producer. My grandfather, father and mother and their children, we love wool so much and so it is like part of my being. Wool has been a part of my family for a long time and now with design, it is like two worlds wrapping together."

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